More than ever, relationships are being treated as disposable.
Cutting off a relationship, especially a romantic one, is not easy for most people. There are all sorts of ways to put it off or cloud the waters, but these methods make things worse for the dumpee, and, in the long run, the dumper.
The less you invest in a relationship, emotionally and energetically, the more you stand to lose. Ending relationships with accountability can be challenging at first, but will let you move forward with a clean slate, no baggage, and a clearer sense of what you need in a partner—because you actually put some thought into it.
Here’s a list of some of the “techniques” people use to try to end entanglements without accountability, and why they’re ultimately bad choices.
Defined as dropping communications suddenly and completely with someone you’re dating (as a way to drop the person), ghosting is on the rise. Instead of texting back, you respond with silence. Usually, people ghost others when they can’t handle inflicting pain, or just don’t want to be bothered with drama. But ghosting creates more drama than a clean break.
Ghosting may cause the other party to freak out—their mind will go through a thousand scenarios of what’s going on. They’ll doubt themselves, live in confusion for a while, and then end up resenting you forever.
Icing is, essentially, lying to the other person. You communicate with them, but only to say “um…I’m too busy/tired/moody to hang out tonight.” All of these paths are forms of lying and manipulation, but the icing is the most blatant. It’s a way for your ego to feel wanted and your anxiety about being alone to be satiated.
The other person will figure out pretty quickly that you’re not really busy every night of the week and are trying to break it off without integrity. They’re going to resent you for this and see you as weak.
Here you just back off a little bit at a time, making excuses for why you can’t see the person, but you stay sweet and available. This is a passive-aggressive technique and it wastes a lot of time. You like having the other person at the end of your string, but you’re keeping your options open.
The other person will figure out that something is wrong, but with no information from you, they’ll probably hope that it can be worked out, and stay strung along, for a while. Eventually, even the most smitten person will wake up and ditch you.
Ending a relationship with accountability – the clean break
And finally, here’s the accountable, ethical way to end a relationship. Being assertive and making a clean break from a dying relationship actually causes fewer problems in the long run. A lot of people choose to do the breakup via text message, which doesn’t have the integrity of a face-to-face confrontation or even a phone call, but it’s still better than ghosting, icing, and simmering.
Being honest and assertive is harder at first, but actually pays off in the long run. You become a person to be trusted, a safer person. You’ll attract similar people and introduce less pain into the world.
Do you need help starting, maintaining, or ending a relationship?
If you need relationship help, contact Clinton Power + Associates for a FREE 15-minute phone consultation to discuss your situation and find out how we can help. Call us now on (02) 8968 9323 or book your free phone consult online.
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.